TV’s “upfront” sales session is more or less over. But that doesn’t mean A+E Networks has closed the sales window.
The company, which operates A&E, History, Lifetime and several other cable networks, plans to hold a half-hour showcase to highlight its 2021 programming. The preview will be made available between October 27 and 29, and will feature appearances by Tim Allen, Laurence Fishburne, Morgan Freeman, Salt-N-Pepa, Wendy Williams and others, who will help highlight more than 1500 hours of original content.
“Our business is 52 weeks a year and that’s why it is critical for content providers to have an enormous cache of immediately available, premium content. We are so fortunate to have a programming team that delivers a continuous pipeline of exciting projects across our distinctive brands,” said Peter Olsen, president of ad sales for A+E Networks, in a statement. “We continue to provide brand clarity to our audiences and advertisers along with partnership opportunities and sales solutions that work.”
A+E calls on potential sponsors after months of bickering between media companies and big advertisers over whether the industry’s “upfront,” when it tries to sell the bulk of its commercial inventory, needs to change in seismic fashion. As many big TV advertisers were forced by the coronavirus pandemic to delay purchases of ad time, several big marketers — including Procter & Gamble, Unilever and Mastercard — called for the annual sales session, which is usually conducted in late spring and summer — be moved so that sponsors might buy time later in the year. The networks agreed to do so, but some media buyers say that clients who could not commit money in more regular fashion ended up paying higher prices overall.
A+E intends to offer a look at “Great Escapes with Morgan Freeman,” “History’s Greatest Mysteries,’ hosted by Laurence Fishburne, and “Assembly Required with Tim Allen,” all shown on History. Highlights from A&E will include “Voices Magnified” and “Hustle & Tow,” as well as “Kisstory” and a slate of WWE biographies. Lifetime will call attention to “Married at First Sight,” “Unmatchables,” “Wendy Williams: Hot Topic,” more than 30 hours of holiday-movie originals and original Lifetime Movies about Salt-n-Pepa and Mahalia Jackson, the last presented by “Good Morning America” co-anchor Robin Roberts.
The pandemic’s effect on production remains a concern across the industry. A+E will cite its 40,000 hours of library programming that will give it the ability to fill in any gaps in production of original content.